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For many of us, the days surrounding our periods are often marked by varying levels of discomfort and pain. It can be difficult to even think about how to practice self-care during your period, but focusing on gently nurturing yourself during this time can make it so much more bearable!
Menstruation is strangely still seen as a taboo topic in many circles. And that’s usually why women and people who menstruate feel quite isolated and alone during their menses – we’ve been conditioned to be ashamed to talk about it.
But that doesn’t change the fact that we still have to deal with it! So let’s shed some light on it and figure out how we can attend to our mind and body’s needs while going through it, shall we?
Here are some nifty tips and tricks to help you practice self-care during your period.
1. Focus on affirmations
Setting your intention and practicing positive affirmations can go a long way in helping you focus on having a positive mindset. This, in turn, makes challenges – including pre-menstrual symptoms – a lot more manageable.
Menstruation can be very mentally challenging, with mood swings being an inevitable part of the process for most of us. Shifting our perspective and committing to a more positive mindset can be surprisingly effective in reframing how we view our periods.
Here are a few affirmations you can use:
- I will treat my body with love
- I accept the changes my body is going through
- I am kind and patient with myself and those around me
- I will surround myself with positive energy
2. Practice gentle movement
Exercise can be incredibly effective at managing period pain, but the truth is that most of us barely have energy to do our everyday tasks, let alone stick to our regular workout routine! To be honest, I find it hard to move at all on the first day.
However, light exercise and gentle movement can provide relief from period discomfort while boosting your feel-good hormones (AKA endorphins). Trust me, if you listen to your body and respect its limits, gentle exercises such as walking and yoga can really help you manage your period pain and improve your mood too.
3. Eat nutritious food
Funny story: The first time I gave my kiddos a long talk about periods was because they asked me why I’m eating chocolates when they’re not allowed to! First of all, it was a good opportunity to normalise period talk around our house. Secondly, it got me thinking about what I eat during my period too!
While it’s totally okay to indulge in all your favourite salty, sweet, and creamy treats during your period, it’s still important to remember that nutritious food like fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your physical symptoms. You should also try to include herbs and spices that reduce inflammation.
(Psst…dark chocolate is an anti-inflammatory too, so it’s good for you!)
4. Patience, not productivity
It’s so hard when you’re so uncomfortable, cranky, and miserable, but please be patient with yourself. It’s nearly impossible for you to be as productive and motivated as usual when you’re on your period – and that’s totally normal!
This is a time where you need to give yourself as much grace as possible. Take a step back and relax your expectations a little bit. Focus on getting more rest than usual.
Planning ahead and being kind to myself is how I take care of myself during my period. If your cycle is fairly predictable, avoid setting work deadlines or important meetings during your period. This is a great way to reduce the chances of being in a stressful situation while menstruating.
5. Practice mindfulness
I find that focusing on mindfulness allows me to be fully present in the moment, which helps distract me from the mood swings and physical discomfort I feel during my periods. While mindful activities are a part of my everyday routine, I devote extra time to things like morning stretches, journaling, and niksen when I’m menstruating.
If you have favourite mindful activities or hobbies, make sure you’re carving out extra time for them while on your period. Here are some ideas:
- Knitting or embroidery
- Colouring books
- Jigsaw puzzles (I love this one by Saint Belford)
- Crosswords or word searches
6. Get out in nature
Being out in nature, even for just a few minutes a day, is scientifically proven to do wonders for your mental and physical health. I make it a habit to go outdoors come rain or shine every single day, but it’s especially impactful during my period.
Whether you choose to go for a quick walk around the block, or spend your work day out on your patio (this is my favourite place to work on warm sunny days!), find a way to be outdoors. It can lift your mood and provide a much-needed energy boost right when you need it most.
7. Use reusable period products
Self-care is all about doing things that are good for you, but using non-disposable period products has the added benefit of being good for our planet too! There are so many options for Earth-friendly reusable period products now, including reusable pads, menstrual cups, and period panties.
Finding the right period products to suit your needs may take some trial and error, but it feels so good when you find the right one! I switched to non-disposable period products 14 years ago and haven’t looked back. It’s great to not have to make emergency runs to the supermarket too – I’ve always got my products conveniently at home.
8. Write in your journal
If you find yourself experiencing anxiety and depression during your periods, you are not alone. A lot of people who menstruate can attest to experience a number of negative mental changes, and there are a number known mood disorders directly related to menstruation.
Journaling can provide clarity and a safe space to vent your emotions. I find that I tend to experience anxiety and anger issues during my period, and journaling about these feelings can feel like a release, allowing me to have a better emotional response when life gets tough (and it always gets tough right around my period, why????).
Oh man, you pretty much have to peel me off the bed on those first few days of my period. It feels like I need about 12 hours of sleep each night, which isn’t too far from the truth. Fatigue and excessive sleepiness is totally normal during menstruation.
Unfortunately, indulging in sleep can be nearly impossible given the busy modern lifestyle we lead. But I urge you to give yourself a chance at sleeping a few extra hours each night by going to bed early, banishing mobile devices from the bedroom, and creating a relaxing atmosphere to help you get to sleep and stay asleep easily.
Here are my top tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Use white noise – I have a track on my phone that I play on a loop which is literally just white noise like you’d hear on a plane ride
- Get blackout curtains so you can squeeze in a little more sleep even when the sun’s already up
- Use eye masks to completely block out any light
10. Heat is your friend
Hot water bottles, wheat pillows, or rechargeable warm pillows can not only help you feel comfy and cosy, they can measurably reduce your period pain too. I generally use these warm compresses around my pelvic area and lower back.
Aside from that, a warm shower or bath can also help provide some relief while also having an overall relaxing effect. But don’t just hop in and out of the bath or shower! Allow yourself some time to fully relax. This also happens to be a great way to set yourself for a good night’s sleep.
11. Create a period self-care kit
The great thing about periods is you generally know that you’ll expect them every few weeks. So why not plan ahead?
Your period self-care kit can contain all your favourite tools to make periods more bearable. This may include:
- Your favourite scented candles
- A hot water bottles or wheat pillows
- Pain relief medication
- Handheld massagers
- Your chosen reusable period products
- A good book
Having a fun little period self-care kit may even make you look forward to your next period!
12. Treat yourself
Do you have any guilty pleasures you generally don’t indulge in during the rest of the month? Well, here’s your license to let yourself indulge during your period. This could mean chocolates and ice cream or tacky rom-coms that make you cry.
The key is that it’s something that makes you happy that you generally avoid because it’s not great for you in large doses. But when done in moderation, these little spots of happiness can help you feel better at a time when you’re generally feeling down.
13. Pleasure yourself
I mentioned before that the feel-good hormone oxytocin can lift your mood and reduce pain, and do you know one of the best ways to get a dose of oxytocin? It’s by having orgasms! So go ahead and have a little solo playtime – it’s good for you.
If you have a partner who is open to sexual exploration while on your period, and you’re comfortable with it, this can be a particularly pleasurable time to practice. You’re especially randy and sensitive during your periods, which makes for a more intense experience overall.
14. Dress comfortably
Embrace loose, comfortable clothes during your period! Putting comfort first will make your day-to-day tasks so much easier to manage because you’re not distracted by tight clothing or uncomfortable seams.
Have a think about fabrics as well. Natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool feel good against your skin, which tends to become more sensitive around your period. And if you’re worried about stains, do yourself a favour and dress in darker colours. It personally helps me feel less self-conscious about possible leaks, which is a much-needed confidence boost.
15. Appreciate your body
Your body experiences a lot of physical changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Between bloating, breast tenderness, and labia swelling, there’s a lot going on! It can be frustrating at times, mostly because it’s completely out of our control.
But taking the time to appreciate your body for doing what it does can help you reframe that frustration and acknowledge that it’s all part of a natural cycle. I usually do this through affirmations or verbally thanking my body for helping me through my menstrual cycle.
More importantly, tracking these changes are a good way of noticing when something is amiss – this can help you detect potentially dangerous reasons for any unexpected symptoms.
16. Reach out for comfort and help
Part of self-care is acknowledging when you might need a little help with it. Reach out to your partner, family, or close friends if you think you need extra help with things, or even if you specifically require assistance with your menstrual symptoms.
This can be asking your partner for a massage, or asking your kids to be a little quiet so you can take a nap on the couch, or asking a friend if they have the capacity to support you while you cry. Asking for help when you need it is totally a form of self-care!
Put self-care first during your period
It’s important to nurture yourself with self-care at all times, but it’s especially important to practice self-care during your period. Even though we experience periods every month, it doesn’t get easier. It’s uncomfortable, messy, and sometimes painful.
So make the experience a little easier to manage by putting your self-care first! Whether you use one or all 13 of the tips on how to take care of yourself when on your period shown here, I promise you’ll be able to handle it all a little better during your next cycle.
If you’re looking for more ideas for self-care activities, why don’t you download my free eBook, 100 Quick And Easy Self-Care Ideas For Busy Women? It contains heaps of self-care ideas you can practice at any time during your cycle. Download it by subscribing below!